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PCS, or permanent change of station, is a term that those outside the military won’t be familiar with. You might have heard it from a friend in the military or because one of your relatives is going through it. A permanent change of station is when a military member is transferred from their existing station to a different one located in another state or area.

Don’t confuse PCS with PCA. We already talked about what PCS means. PCA refers to a permanent change of assignment. If you’re in the same unit and location, but your task is changed, it’s called a PCA. PCS requires a change of location.

What to Know Ahead of PCS

The concept of PCS can be very stressful for those going through it. As a military member, you and your family may have adjusted well to your existing situation. When that’s the case, a permanent change of station can be tough. Moving from one place to another is difficult regardless of your line of work, and being in the military is no different.

You’ll be allowed 10 days of leave once you’re told about your PCS. When you take these 10 days is up to you. You can choose to take your ten days several weeks before your move to plan ahead of time, or you can wait for the final ten days before your move.

These ten days won’t be deducted from your pay, but the military won’t reimburse you. Transportation and living arrangements will be paid for out of your pocket. You and the family members moving with you will be allowed what is called a TLE or temporary lodging expense. You can receive up to $290 per family member that moves with you during PCS. You might also be eligible for a dislocation allowance.

Military communities are relatively small and close. If you’re moving into one for the first time, you should know that you’ll live in a very close community. You’ll know most people living there, and they’ll know you back. It’s also great that you’ll have access to almost everything you need in a military community. You won’t have to drive out of the military community often, as most of your needs will be met. Whether you need a gym, a shopping center, or an open space, you’ll find it in your military community. Naturally, privacy isn’t big in these communities. Keeping your business to yourself will be harder than you think when you’re living in a community where you know everyone, and they know you.

Permanent change of station or PCS isn’t straightforward. The military has plenty of ways to help you and make your transition easier. You will also have access to several methods of financial aid where the government can assist you with certain expenses. The main thing is to plan ahead and try to get all your paperwork to make the process smoother.